It may come as a surprise to some that such paintings were not exotic fantasies but were inspired by actual scenery such as that at Huangshan which has been a place of pilgrimage for Chinese artists for centuries.
While photographing this landscape, I felt a distant kinship with the creators of the paintings I have admired. The comparison of the two media may not be as far-fetched as it may seem. Classic texts and the paintings themselves demonstrate that Chinese landscape painters possessed a sensibility much like that of many photographers. They were almost obsessive observers of the minutest alterations in appearances wrought by changes in season, time of day, light, weather, and point of view. They also believed that almost anything could be rendered artistically, i.e., spiritually significant, provided only that it be represented in such a way as to reveal its essence. And for the photographer, the straight photographer at least, an acceptance of the intractable world before the lens is not a grudging recognition of limits but an affirmation of possibilities - the successful photograph is an interface of inner and outer realities.
The desire to photograph was acute. Not the making of a momento or piece of evidence of having had an experience - but rather the making of an image that is a significant transformation of what is witnessed. But whence the desire to so create? Does the image surpass the already stirring reality? Or is it simply the fleeting experience of the reality rendered more permanent? The ancient Chinese painters believed that a successful painting, in its production and apprehension, is both the result and revelation of an underlying sublimely indifferent Nature of which humankind is only a part. It is, they believed, a basic human urge to image this reality, and Huangshan has been a perennial occasion for such images in which we are free to wander and to live.